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Moscow in Winter: a vibrant city of beauty and elegance (PHOTOS)

Personal impression of Moscow as Russia exits recession is a thriving, beautiful and increasingly elegant city.

Alexander Mercouris

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As followers of The Duran will have noticed, I recently spent a week in Moscow.

Most of my time there inevitably was taken up with work on The Duran.  It was thrilling to meet my colleagues there.  This is the first time since The Duran was founded that all four of us – Alex Christoforou, Peter Lavelle, Vladimir Rodzianko and myself – were all gathered together in one place.  It was my first opportunity to meet Sergey Gladysh, our managing editor.

The highlight of the visit was The Duran’s launch party, followed swiftly after by our first live Q&A session. 

Both were hugely stimulating and exciting events.  It was wonderful to see the interest and support The Duran has generated in the few months since we started.  It was especially thrilling to meet with our readers and – during the Q&A session – to respond to their questions.

Time constraints – including a flying visit to Greece directly after my trip to Moscow – made it impossible for me to follow up – and properly thank – all the people I met in Moscow.  Rest assured that it is now my priority.

Though the trip to Moscow was first and foremost a business visit, it also gave me a good opportunity to get a feel of the state of the city as winter approaches and as Russia comes out of recession.

The word “elegant” is not one that is generally associated with Moscow, and yet in my opinion it is the one that best matches the direction in which the city is evolving.

If one’s taste – like mine – runs to art deco, then Moscow is the art deco capital par excellence.  I say this because in my opinion what is generally called ‘Stalinist architecture’ – which actually lasted for several years after Stalin’s death – is more properly called Russian art deco. 

Moreover it is art deco done with extraordinary conviction and flair.  The centre of Moscow is full of it.   The seven great Stalinist skyscrapers (“the Seven Sisters”) and the Moscow Metro are internationally the most famous examples, but by no means the only ones or even necessarily the best.  Indeed if I had to say what I think is perhaps the most remarkable example of Russian art deco, then it would be the great exhibition area VDNKh – complete with Vera Mukhina’s iconic statue of a worker and farmer holding aloft the hammer and sickle – which is currently in the last stages of a major renovation.

vdnkh_fountain_pavilionWhat however gives Moscow such a strong art deco flavour is not that it is the style used for some of the great buildings.  Rather it is that it is the architectural style chosen for so many of the great apartment buildings not just in the city’s centre but in its inner suburbs. 

dsc_2066-4b4ca16c-largeThese apartment buildings – with their fine apartments with their amazingly tall ceilings, and with their leafy courtyards with their parking and their ample children’s play areas – are some of the most handsome apartment buildings in the world, and there seem to be thousands of them.  A suburb I visited – Sokol – seemed to be composed entirely of them.

Interspersed amongst these art deco apartment buildings are parks – of which Moscow seems to have a prodigious number – certain quarters towards the centre which still retain a distinctly nineteenth century character (especially in the area close to the Kremlin), and a surprisingly large number of very fine art nouveau and modernist buildings from the period just before the First World War and from the 1920s. 

Gorky House

Gorky House

The large number of 1920s modernist (“Constructivist”) buildings – of which the most famous is Lenin’s tomb – is especially surprising, though many of them are in poor condition.  Moscow compares very well in this respect with other European cities.  By way of example, very close to my hotel in the Arbat there was a remarkable cylindrical Constructivist town house built by the architect Konstantin Melnikov.

Cylindrical Constructivist townhouse

Cylindrical Constructivist townhouse

“Renovation” is perhaps the best word to describe what is currently happening to Moscow, and it is being conducted at a frenetic pace that to someone used to the infinitely slower pace now common in the West is quite dizzying.

Since the summer most of the sidewalks in the centre of the city have been widened – making the city far friendlier and more accessible to pedestrians – and there seems to have been a blizzard of tree planting, making what will be an already very green city even greener.

I use the future tense because when I arrived Moscow was covered by its first snow, and one day the temperature fell to -8 degrees centigrade.  That meant that there was little green, but one is more than compensated by the snow, which at this early stage in winter gives Moscow its beautiful winter coat.

At this point I should say that people who have never been to Moscow and who have heard frightening stories of the cold should put those fears aside.  Not only are the heating systems exceptionally efficient, but the dry climate makes the cold and the snow not just bearable but actually stimulating – rather like drinking champagne.  Suffice to say that I find that London’s damp and humid climate makes the cold there far more difficult to bear, even though the thermometer in London rarely falls below zero.

The combination of pristine art deco architecture and sparkling snow is magical, and the extraordinary colour of much of the architecture – especially of the churches of which there are scores – adds to the beautiful picture.

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The renovation I spoke of has however played a major part in bringing these qualities out. Compared to the Moscow of the 1990s and the early 2000s, which I remember only too well, the transformation has been astonishing. 

The ugly advertisements which had proliferated have disappeared – including completely from the Metro.   The tacky kiosks have gone.  There is barely any graffiti, and the streets are not only entirely free of litter but seem almost polished.

Some areas like Novy Arbat – which in the 1990s had become a profoundly horrible gambling district – have been transformed, becoming an actually very pleasant entertainment district with dozens of fine bars, cafes, shops (including book and electronic shops) and restaurants.

20130927_novyarbatstreet_russia_pink

Novy Arbat Street at night

Our contributor James Bradley recently wrote a piece for The Duran in which he spoke with wonder of the beautiful orderliness of Moscow and of the absence of potholes there. 

Not only do I agree with this picture but as a brief visitor James Bradley was of course unable to see what a pleasant – as opposed to a merely beautiful – city Moscow has become.

The days when Moscow and indeed Russia were a byword for bad food and slovenly service are long gone.  The place has proliferated with cafes, restaurants and bars, and it is now even possible to talk of places that actually offer fine dining for those who want it, whilst the service I experienced in every place I went was excellent. 

image1

Interestingly in one place the waiter was careful to warn me (in English) that the price on the menu (in Russian) of the steak I had ordered was its price according to weight.  An actual portion would weigh three times as much and would therefore cost three times more.  I had already worked it out but I was nonetheless impressed that the waiter thought fit to tell me about it.  I can think of many other places where a waiter would not have done so.

To those incidentally brought up with stories of Russian food being only boiled cabbage and meatballs, I would say that it is actually one of the most distinctive cuisines of Europe, and there are now plenty of places in Moscow where one can sample it in all its variety – from the traditional, to the form which would once have been familiar in Moscow restaurants just before the Revolution, to the ultra-modern of today.

In addition to Russian food there is also an abundance of other cuisines to choose from, from the ubiquitous sushi, to Caucasian and Central Asian cuisines which are barely known in the West, to excellent Indian and Chinese food, and of course to every conceivable variety of Western food including German, Italian and French. 

The Duran’s launch party incidentally was held in a Lebanese restaurant where the food was excellent.

As for the notorious Soviet “bifsteks” (actually a meatball) Moscow is now currently in the throes of a ferocious ‘burger war’ between competing chains (some of them very good), and there is now excellent home grown steak in many places.

One feature of dining in Moscow which has not changed is that one is still far more likely to have live music in a Moscow restaurant than for example in London, and this music is often not just a quiet piano but a singer with a group.  I rather enjoy the experience but for those who don’t there are plenty of quieter places to choose from.

If the bar, cafe and restaurant scene is transformed, then Moscow still retains its colossal legacy of theatres, concert halls, ballet and opera houses etc, to an extent possibly unmatched by any other capital.  Lovers (like me) of classical music should know that it is taken more seriously in Moscow – with more concerts, venues, advertising and performance – than in any other capital I know (except possibly Vienna) and that the standard of performance is outstanding.

Over and above these activities and the enormous number of fine museums and art galleries one can visit, some of which like the Tretyakov and the Pushkin can compare with the best in the world, Moscow by all accounts continues to have a vibrant nightlife, though one which I am no longer fully up to partaking in.

For those interested in experiencing the full life of Moscow I would add that the best time to visit Moscow is in the autumn and winter months, since it is then that its various scenes (including by the way the Bolshoi) are most busy.

I of course do not want to deny the continuing problems. 

Traffic congestion remains appalling, and caused me to be an hour and a half late for a dinner appointment on the day of my arrival. 

Retail activity in the shops is still well below where it was before the start of the recession, and that fact is reflected in the statistics.

However overall, not only has Moscow come through the recession well, but as a properly managed recession should be this one has been beneficial, clearing out some of the uglier and less sustainable manifestations of life that were previously there.

In summary, as Moscow along with the rest of Russia comes out of recession, I have never seen it look so well.

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Russia Gives US Red Line On Venezuela

Political force is out. Military force is out. Respect international law and Venezuela’s sovereignty. That’s Russia’s eminently reasonable ultimatum to Washington.

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Authored by Finian Cunningham via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


At a high-level meeting in Rome this week, it seems that Russia reiterated a grave warning to the US – Moscow will not tolerate American military intervention to topple the Venezuelan government with whom it is allied.

Meanwhile, back in Washington DC, President Donald Trump was again bragging that the military option was still on the table, in his press conference with Brazilian counterpart Jair Bolsonaro. Trump is bluffing or not yet up to speed with being apprised of Russia’s red line.

The meeting in the Italian capital between US “special envoy” on Venezuelan affairs Elliot Abrams and Russia’s deputy foreign minister Sergei Ryabkov had an air of urgency in its arrangement. The US State Department announced the tête-à-tête only three days beforehand. The two officials also reportedly held their two-hour discussions in a Rome hotel, a venue indicating ad hoc arrangement.

Abrams is no ordinary diplomat. He is a regime-change specialist with a criminal record for sponsoring terrorist operations, specifically the infamous Iran-Contra affair to destabilize Nicaragua during the 1980s. His appointment by President Trump to the “Venezuela file” only underscores the serious intent in Washington for regime change in Caracas. Whether it gets away with that intent is another matter.

Moscow’s interlocutor, Sergei Ryabkov, is known to not mince his words, having earlier castigated Washington for seeking global military domination. He calls a spade a spade, and presumably a criminal a criminal.

The encounter in Rome this week was described as “frank” and “serious” – which is diplomatic code for a blazing exchange. The timing comes at a high-stakes moment, after Venezuela having been thrown into chaos last week from civilian power blackouts that many observers, including the Kremlin, blame on American cyber sabotage. The power grid outage followed a failed attempt by Washington to stage a provocation with the Venezuelan military over humanitarian aid deliveries last month from neighboring Colombia.

The fact that Washington’s efforts to overthrow the elected President Nicolas Maduro have so far floundered, might suggest that the Americans are intensifying their campaign to destabilize the country, with the objective of installing US-backed opposition figure Juan Guaido. He declared himself “acting president” in January with Washington’s imprimatur.

Given that the nationwide power blackouts seem to have failed in fomenting a revolt by the civilian population or the military against Maduro, the next option tempting Washington could be the military one.

It seems significant that Washington has recently evacuated its last remaining diplomats from the South American country. US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo commented on the evacuation by saying that having US personnel on the ground “was limiting” Washington’s scope for action. Also, American Airlines reportedly cancelled all its services to Venezuela in the past week. Again, suggesting that the US was considering a military intervention, either directly with its troops or covertly by weaponizing local proxies. The latter certainly falls under Abrams’ purview.

After the Rome meeting, Ryabkov said bluntly: “We assume that Washington treats our priorities seriously, our approach and warnings.”

One of those warnings delivered by Ryabkov is understood to have been that no American military intervention in Venezuela will be tolerated by Moscow.

For his part, Abrams sounded as if he had emerged from the meeting after having been given a severe reprimand. “No, we did not come to a meeting of minds, but I think the talks were positive in the sense that both sides emerged with a better understanding of the other’s views,” he told reporters.

“A better understanding of the other’s views,” means that the American side was given a red line to back off.

The arrogance of the Americans is staggering. Abrams seems, according to US reporting, to have flown to Rome with the expectation of working out with Ryabkov a “transition” or “compromise” on who gets the “title of president” of Venezuela.

That’s what he no doubt meant when he said after the meeting “there was not a meeting of minds”, but rather he got “a better understanding” of Russia’s position.

Washington’s gambit is a replay of Syria. During the eight-year war in that country, the US continually proffered the demand of a “political transition” which at the end would see President Bashar al Assad standing down. By contrast, Russia’s unflinching position on Syria has always been that it’s not up to any external power to decide Syria’s politics. It is a sovereign matter for the Syrian people to determine independently.

Nearly three years after Russia intervened militarily in Syria to salvage the Arab country from a US-backed covert war for regime change, the American side has manifestly given up on its erstwhile imperious demands for “political transition”. The principle of Syrian sovereignty has prevailed, in large part because of Russia’s trenchant defense of its Arab ally.

Likewise, Washington, in its incorrigible arrogance, is getting another lesson from Russia – this time in its own presumed “back yard” of Latin America.

It’s not a question of Russia being inveigled by Washington’s regime-change schemers about who should be president of Venezuela and “how we can manage a transition”. Moscow has reiterated countless times that the legitimate president of Venezuela is Nicolas Maduro whom the people voted for last year by an overwhelming majority in a free and fair election – albeit boycotted by the US-orchestrated opposition.

The framework Washington is attempting to set up of choosing between their desired “interim president” and incumbent Maduro is an entirely spurious one. It is not even worthy to be discussed because it is a gross violation of Venezuela’s sovereignty. Who is Washington to even dare try to impose its false choice?

On Venezuela, Russia is having to remind the criminal American rulers – again – about international law and respect for national sovereignty, as Moscow earlier did with regard to Syria.

And in case Washington gets into a huff and tries the military option, Moscow this week told regime-change henchman Abrams that that’s a red line. If Washington has any sense of rationale left, it will know from its Syria fiasco that Russia has Venezuela’s back covered.

Political force is out. Military force is out. Respect international law and Venezuela’s sovereignty. That’s Russia’s eminently reasonable ultimatum to Washington.

Now, the desperate Americans could still try more sabotage, cyber or financial. But their options are limited, contrary to what Trump thinks.

How the days of American imperialist swagger are numbered. There was a time when it could rampage all over Latin America. Not any more, evidently. Thanks in part to Russia’s global standing and military power.

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With RussiaGate Over Where’s Hillary?

Hillary is the epitome of envy. Envy is the destructive sin of coveting someone else’s life so much they are obsessed with destroying it. It’s the sin of Cain. She envies what Trump has, the Presidency.

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Authored by Tom Luongo:


During most of the RussiaGate investigation against Donald Trump I kept saying that all roads lead to Hillary Clinton.

Anyone with three working brain cells knew this, including ‘Miss’ Maddow, whose tears of disappointment are particularly delicious.

Robert Mueller’s investigation was designed from the beginning to create something out of nothing. It did this admirably.

It was so effective it paralyzed the country for more than two years, just like Europe has been held hostage by Brexit. And all of this because, in the end, the elites I call The Davos Crowd refused to accept that the people no longer believed their lies about the benefits of their neoliberal, globalist agenda.

Hillary Clinton’s ascension to the Presidency was to be their apotheosis along with the Brexit vote. These were meant to lay to rest, once and for all time, the vaguely libertarian notion that people should rule themselves and not be ruled by philosopher kings in some distant land.

Hillary’s failure was enormous. And the RussiaGate gambit to destroy Trump served a laundry list of purposes to cover it:

  1. Undermine his legitimacy before he even takes office.
  2. Accuse him of what Hillary actually did: collude with Russians and Ukrainians to effect the outcome of the election
  3. Paralyze Trump on his foreign policy desires to scale back the Empire
  4. Give aid and comfort to hurting progressives and radicalize them further undermining our political system
  5. Polarize the electorate over the false choice of Trump’s guilt.
  6. Paralyze the Dept. of Justice and Congress so that they would not uncover the massive corruption in the intelligence agencies in the U.S. and the U.K.
  7. Isolate Trump and take away every ally or potential ally he could have by turning them against him through prosecutor overreach.

Hillary should have been thrown to the wolves after she failed. When you fail the people she failed and cost them the money she cost them, you lose more than just your funding. What this tells you is that she has so much dirt on everyone involved, once this thing started everyone went along with it lest she burn them down as well.

Burnin’ Down da House

Hillary is the epitome of envy. Envy is the destructive sin of coveting someone else’s life so much they are obsessed with destroying it. It’s the sin of Cain

She envies what Trump has, the Presidency.

And she was willing to tear it down to keep him from having it no matter how much damage it would do. She’s worse than the Joker from The Dark Knight.

Because while the Joker is unfathomable to someone with a conscience there’s little stopping us from excising him from the community completely., even though Batman refuses.

Hillary hates us for who we are and what we won’t give her. And that animus drove her to blackmail the world while putting on the face of its savior.

And that’s what makes what comes next so obvious to me. RussiaGate was never a sustainable narrative. It was ludicrous from the beginning. And now that it has ended with a whimper there are a lot of angry, confused and scared people out there.

Mueller thought all he had to do was lean on corrupt people and threaten them with everything. They would turn on Trump. He would resign in disgrace from the public outcry.

It didn’t work. In the end Paul Manafort, Michael Cohen and Roger Stone all held their ground or perjured themselves into the whole thing falling apart.

Andrew Weissman’s resignation last month was your tell there was nothing. Mueller would pursue this to the limit of his personal reputation and no further.

Just like so many other politicians.

Vote Your Pocketbook

With respect to Brexit I’ve been convinced that it would come down to reputations.

Would the British MP’s vote against their own personal best interests to do the bidding of the EU?

Would Theresa May eventually realize her historical reputation would be destroyed if she caves to Brussels and betrays Brexit in the end?

Always bet on the fecklessness of politicians. They will always act selfishly when put to the test. While leading RussiaGate, Mueller was always headed here if he couldn’t get someone to betray Trump.

And now his report is in. There are no new indictments. And by doing so he is saving his reputation for the future. And that is your biggest tell that HIllary’s blackmail is now worthless.

They don’t fear her anymore because RussiaGate outed her as the architect. Anything else she has is irrelevant in the face of trying to oust a sitting president from power.

The progressives that were convinced of Trump’s treason are bereft; their false hope stripped away like standing in front of a sandblaster. They will be raw, angry and looking for blood after they get over their denial.

Everyone else who was blackmailed into going along with this lunacy will begin cutting deals to save their skins. The outrage over this will not end. Trump will be President when he stands for re-election.

The Wolves Beckon

The Democrats do not have a chance against him as of right now. When he was caving on everything back in December it looked like he was done. That there was enough meat on the RussiaGate bones to make Nancy Pelosi brave.

Then she backed off on impeachment talk. Oops.

But the Democrats have a sincere problem. Their candidates have no solutions other than to embrace the crazy and go full Bolshevik. That is not a winning position.

Trump will kill them on ‘socialism.’

The Deep State and The Davos Crowd stand revealed and reviled.

If they don’t do something dramatic then the anger from the rest of the country will also be palpable come election time. Justice is not done simply by saying, “No evidence of collusion.”

It’s clear that RussiaGate is a failure of monumental proportions. Heads will have to roll. But who will be willing to fall on their sword at this point?

Comey? No. McCabe? No.

There is only one answer. And Obama’s people are still in place to protect him. I said last fall that “Hillary would indict herself.” And I meant it. Eventually her blackmail and drive to burn it all down led to this moment.

The circumstances are different than I expected back then, Trump didn’t win the mid-terms. But the end result was always the same. If there is no collusion, if RussiaGate is a scam, then all roads lead back to Hillary as the sacrificial lamb.

Because the bigger project, the erection of a transnational superstate, is bigger than any one person. Hillary is expendable.

Lies are expensive to maintain. The truth is cheap to defend. Think of the billions in opportunity costs associated with this. Once the costs rise above the benefits, change happens fast.

If there is any hope of salvaging the center of this country for the Democrats, the ones that voted against Hillary in 2016, then there is no reason anymore not to indict Hillary as the architect of RussiaGate.

We all know it’s the truth. So, the cheapest way out of this mess for them is to give the MAGApedes what they want, Hillary.

And hope that is enough bread and circuses to distract from the real storm ahead of us.

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Trump’s CIA Now Unbound And Back To Its Traditional Hijinks

There is further evidence that suggests the neo-cons, in cahoots with Haspel at the CIA, set out to disrupt the Hanoi summit.

Strategic Culture Foundation

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Authored by Wayne Madsen via The Strategic Culture Foundation:


Under the directorship of torture and black site maven Gina Haspel, Donald Trump’s Central Intelligence Agency has returned to its traditional roots of conducting “black bag” operations and disrupting electrical grids through cyber-attacks.

The Venezuelan government has accused the Trump administration of giving the green light for a series of crippling power failures in Venezuela, which affected 22 of Venezuela’s 23 states, including the capital of Caracas. The long-duration power failures were cited by US Secretary of State Mike Pompeo as a reason for the US withdrawing its diplomats from Caracas. Venezuelan President Nicolas Maduro announced that an international commission assisted by specialists from Russia, China, Iran, and the United Nations would help his country analyze the sources of the Venezuelan electrical grid cyber-attack. Initial cyber-forensics by Venezuela traced some of the cyber warfare being waged against Venezuela to nodes in Houston and Chicago.

In addition to electricity, water service was disrupted in Venezuela. From Miraflores presidential palace in Caracas, Maduro tweeted on March 12: “From the Presidential Command Post, we monitored minute-by-minute the progress of the recovery of the National Electric System.”

Cyber-attacks on a country that puts its civilian population in jeopardy might, at first glance, appear to be a violation of the Geneva Conventions on warfare. However, without a Digital Geneva Convention, civilian populations are not covered by the current Geneva Conventions. However, in 2015, the United Nations Group of Governmental Experts on Developments in the Field of Information and Telecommunications in the Context of International Security (UN GGE), which included experts from the United States, China, Russia, France, the United Kingdom, and other nations, agreed that current international law does apply to cyberspace. Most international legal experts agree that the Geneva Conventions require a digital annex to cover the type of cyber-disruption of the Venezuelan electrical grid carried out by the US intelligence services.

Hybrid warfare against Venezuela, which includes economic, diplomatic, and cyber, has the backing of the neo-conservatives who now call the shots for the Trump White House. They include, in addition to Pompeo, national security adviser John Bolton; Iran-Contra felon Elliott Abrams, Trump’s special envoy to the US-backed opposition-led rump Venezuelan government of Juan Guaido; Cuban-American Mauricio Claver-Carone, the senior director for Western Hemisphere affairs at the National Security Council; and Florida Republican Senator Marco Rubio, a Cuban-American, who represents the interests of South Florida’s right-wing oligarch exiles from Venezuela and other Latin American countries.

While Trump was preparing for his Hanoi summit meeting with North Korean leader Kim Jong Un, Trump’s second summit with Kim, Haspel’s CIA dug into its old bag of black operations, while also engaging in the more modern form of cyber-attack in targeting North Korea.

On February 22, 2019, ten males, all wearing masks, broke into the North Korean embassy, which is located in the residential suburb of Aravaca, north of Madrid, Spain, and subjected eight embassy staff members to brutal interrogation tactics, including tying up the diplomats, throwing black bags over their heads (a specialty of Ms. Haspel), and subjecting them to beatings. One female diplomat managed to escape through a second-floor window and her screams alerted a neighbor, who promptly called the police. Two embassy employees required medical attention from their injuries.

The Spanish police and National Intelligence Center (CNI) linked two of the embassy invaders to the CIA. “El Pais,” a Spanish national newspaper, reported that the CIA issued one of its standard “denials,” however, the paper stated that Spanish authorities found the denial from Langley, Virginia to be “unconvincing.” “El Pais” reported that the invasion of the North Korean embassy by the CIA had severely harmed relations between Madrid and Washington.

The National Police Corps’ General Commissariat of Information (CGI) and CNI concluded that the attack and occupation of the North Korean embassy was not carried out by common criminals but was the work of a “military cell” that stole mobile phones and computers. Two of the embassy invaders were identified as Koreans and, based on CGI’s and CNI’s analysis of security camera video footage, they were further recognized as Koreans linked to the CIA. Spanish authorities did not rule out the possibility that South Korea’s National Intelligence Service assisted the CIA in the embassy invasion. The embassy invaders escaped from the embassy using two North Korean luxury sedans bearing diplomatic plates. The cars were later found abandoned.

The criminal inquiry into the incident is now before the Spanish High Court, the Audiencia Nacional, which could order the arrests of the embassy attackers and, if they are in the United States or South Korea, have Spain’s INTERPOL national bureau put out a Red Notice for their arrest and extradition to Spain to stand trial.

Spanish authorities believe the CIA’s embassy attackers were looking for information on Kim Hyok Chol, the former North Korean ambassador to Spain, who was declared “persona non grata” by the Spanish government in 2017. Kim Hyok Chol, a career diplomat from one of North Korea’s elite families who studied French at the Pyongyang University of Foreign Studies and speaks fluent English, is now one of Kim Jong Un’s trusted diplomatic advisers on nuclear talks with the Trump administration and he traveled with Chairman Kim to the failed Hanoi summit with Trump.

With certainty, Kim Hyok Chol thoroughly briefed Kim Jong Un on the CIA’s storming of his old diplomatic post in Spain. When Trump and Chairman Kim met in Hanoi on February 27 and if the issue of the CIA’s siege of the North Korean embassy was brought up, that could have been enough to derail the summit. Considering the fact that war hawks like Bolton, Abrams, and Pompeo are now calling the foreign policy shots for the Trump administration, the attack on the North Korean embassy in Madrid, just five days prior to the Hanoi summit, may have been ordered by Washington’s neo-con cell with the intention of scuttling the second meeting between Trump and Kim and put on ice any future meetings.

There is further evidence that suggests the neo-cons, in cahoots with Haspel at the CIA, set out to disrupt the Hanoi summit. While Trump was meeting with Kim in Vietnam, the CIA is believed to have launched a cyber-attack on the Korean American National Coordinating Council (KANCC) in New York, an organization with ties to the Pyongyang government. KANCC is a non-governmental organization with offices in the Interchurch Center building, near Columbia University in Manhattan. It champions the dropping of US sanctions against North Korea, a sore point in Hanoi between Trump and Kim.

The Trump-Kim Hanoi summit was reported to have hit a roadblock over North Korea’s request for a partial lifting of US sanctions on North Korea, in return for the continued North Korean moratorium on nuclear testing and a partial freeze on production of fissile material. With the CIA’s attack on the North Korean embassy in Spain still fresh in the minds of the North Korean side and the neo-cons’ insistence, pushed by Bolton and Pompeo, for complete North Korean nuclear disarmament, the Hanoi summit was destined for failure. And, with Bolton, Abrams, Pompeo, and other dangerous neo-cons in charge at the White House and the State Department — and Haspel dancing to their tune at the CIA – North Korea and Venezuela are not the only countries currently in the gunsights of the Trump administration.

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